Friday, August 17, 2007

What a Winer!

Do you know what a negociant is? How about Blaufrankisch? Have you ever used the term Flabby - not as a description of your thighs, but rather your glass of wine?

Me neither, at least not until I started reading Educating Peter: How I Taught A Famous Movie Critic the Difference Between Cabernet and Merlot by Lettie Teague.

I was very intrigued when I was offered this book as I am pretty much as far from an informed wine drinker as you can get. Oh sure, I've been to Napa Valley; done dozens of winery tours and tastings in Canada's beautiful Okanagan area; even sat in on some wine classes at a downtown restaurant, but I've never really got wine. While everyone else was swirling and sipping, muttering things like "Fatty", "Chewy" and "Citrus and Pine aromas", I'm in the corner thinking "It tastes like WINE. End of story." Obviously this book was meant to find me.

The first thing that struck me is that this is a fun, non-intimidating book. It's the story of how the executive editor of Food and Wine magazine taught a movie critic the ways of wine. All the basics to get him, and the reader started are here: terminology, how to hold a glass, how to smell and taste the wine. I found the chapter on bottle color, shape and size very interesting. Who knew how much information you could learn from just the vessel?

Once the basics of wine are covered we move into wines and their regions. "Old World" (France, Italy, Spain and more) and "New World" (New Zealand, South Africa, California et al) are both covered - the areas, grapes and wine. Very easy to read and very informative.

My favorite part of the book is when Peter leaves the "classroom" and heads out into the world. Armed with the knowledge the author has given him, Peter navigates through restaurants, wine shops, and meets wine collectors and sommeliers. It was interesting to see how much he had learned and how much his appreciation and openness to different wines expanded.

So what did this book do for me? Well, I certainly did not end up in the same league as Peter, but I definitely picked up some new information and had fun while doing it.

For anyone interested in expanding on their beginners knowledge of wine, this book is truly an enjoyable read.


breadchick said...

Sara, I have been dying to read that book! I heard an interview with the Lettie Teague and Peter on the Splendid Table a few months ago and made a mental not to check it out from the library. Haven't gotten around to it but after your review, I just moved it to the top of the list!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

With Breadchick I've got this on the top of my list. This sounds really just what I need. I love wine but have not much going in the knowledge department.

Peabody said...

Sounds like a good read to pick up.

Anonymous said...

I thought I was the only idiot when it cam to wine. Good to know I am not the only one. This book is definetly at the top of my list.

Deborah Dowd said...

I have heard somuch about this book, I am going to have to check it out!